An Iranian beauty queen is pleading for asylum in the Philippines, fearing that she will be killed if she is extradited to her native country, according to reports.
Bahareh Zare Bahari, 31, has been held at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino airport since Oct. 17. Her arrest was prompted after Iran issued an Interpol red alert, claiming that Bahari assaulted an Iranian citizen in the Philippines.
Markk Perete, undersecretary of the Philippine Department of Justice, said Philippines authorities were unaware of an alleged assault on their soil.
“The only reason she was held at the airport – and we really don’t call it detention, it is really restraining her from entering the Philippine territory – is only because of that Red Notice issued against her.”
Bahari, who has been studying dentistry in the Philippines since 2014, told The Telegraph that the assault charges are a “big lie.” She said Iran’s government is targeting her because of her political activism and advocacy for women’s rights.
In her bio, Bahari writes that she decided to leave Iran because of the limited opportunities for women.
Bahari represented Iran at the 2018 Miss Intercontinental pageant. Earlier this year, she ruffled feathers when she displayed a photo of a Reza Pahlavi – a prominent government critique – at a pageant. She said she used the photo because “all news and media are ignoring my people.”
“I am against our government. The Iran government is terrorist. I always try to [give a] voice [to] my people on media,” Bahari told The Philippine Star on Sunday.
Bahari is confined to Ninoy Aquino’s Terminal 3 while the government reviews her asylum claim.